One of our favorite things about the Eastern Shore is the predominance of quality, live music that pervades our local towns. Whether it’s original music or funky cover bands, pop hits or country classics, there’s a tune for every musical liking. We’re always eager to get behind the scenes with local and visiting artists to learn more about the geniuses behind the microphones. We were thrilled then when we got to catch up with Robert Mabe from Drymill Road recently to delve further into the bands past, present and future. Hailing from Winchester, Virginia, Drymill Road is returning to Ocean City this Friday for a highly anticipated performance at Fager’s Island.

Drymill Road played their first show in Ocean City back in March, performing at the BrewGrass Festival at Fager’s Island and immediately falling in the love with the local crowd. “The people of Ocean City are such great bluegrass fans and they made BrewGrass such a great show for us,” reported Mabe, adding, “we had no idea the people of Ocean City were so into bluegrass before that show and they are the reason we come back to the Eastern Shore!” The band was ushered into our resort town thanks to local musician Nate Clendenen, whom you might also recognize from our recent interview for the upcoming Berlin Fiddler’s Convention (Clendenen is the Musical Director for this year’s Fiddler’s Convention).

Drymill Road first came to fruition in 2009 when guitar player and vocalist Sean Loomis started the band, “because of his desire to explore and perform bluegrass and acoustic music.” From there, David Hurt (bass/vocals), Douglas Ross (mandolin/vocals) and Mabe (banjo/vocals) joined the band, bringing their diverse musical backgrounds together to create a unique bluegrass/newgrass sound. “The band plays traditional music and instruments, but also loves to explore many non-traditional stylings,” explained Mabe. “Having four talented guys that come from such different musical backgrounds makes for a very interesting sound.” Despite differing musical influences and backgrounds, one thread runs strongly through the band explained Mabe, “and that is to make great music while having fun and giving the fans a great show.”

In case you haven’t noticed, bluegrass has garnered a significant following on the Eastern Shore over the past few years, with fiddler’s conventions and bluegrass festivals helping to expose younger generations to bluegrass sounds. “Being exposed to bluegrass music in any form always gets folks interested in its origins and the individuals and bands that started this great genre,” said Mabe. “That’s what keeps it alive!”

When asked whether the band focused more on putting out CDs or performing live shows, Mabe explained that “we are definitely more of a touring band than a recording band. We just love playing to live crowds.” That doesn’t mean there aren’t CDs for sale – Drymill Road released their first in March 2012, which contains all original material. Their second is an EP that was released in June 2013, with a live album set to record September 8. “This will be not a typical live recording,” explained Mabe. “The band will gather around one mic and play to a very intimate crowd. We will also have fiddle player Patrick McAvinue joining us for the session. Patrick is a beast on fiddle! He was nominated for IBMA Fiddle Player of the Year for 2014! We are very excited about this project.” In addition to the CD recording, there will also be a DVD release of the show.

Beyond this week’s show in Ocean City, Drymill Road has an exciting fall lineup, with performances at festivals, private events, and concert halls in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York. In addition, Drymill Road is headlining the Windber Bluegrass Festival in Pennsylvania. “We are very excited to be headlining the Windber Bluegrass Festival,” said Mabe. “We have been gaining a great fan base in Pennsylvania and the headlining spot at Windber came at the perfect time!” The band also has plans to tour in Florida this winter.

When asked what makes a great live performance, Mabe definitively attributed any successful show to a perfect union between the band and the audience. “A great live performance starts with a great band and an energetic audience. If you have these two elements and they start feeding on each other the show will be out of this world.”

After their electrifying performance at the BrewGrass Festival at Fager’s Island in March, you can bet Friday’s performance will be one you won’t want to miss. For more on Drymill Road, visit their website at See y’all Friday night!

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